Fungal Fascination | Mushroom foraging in the woods of Journey’s End

Before this recent snowfall, I took an afternoon walk in the woods with the intention of finding some mushrooms. I had my eye out  for dead trees and stumps.The path was promising, because of the tree variety and their proximity to the creeks. As I walked past some evergreens I came upon Jackie the donkey, our independent and loveable animal elder, looking solemnly mystical in one of his favorite spots.

 Jackie

Jackie

He brayed at me a few times, and so I walked ahead a bit. Then, spotted on a dead tree stump:

 Fomes fomentarius - Horsehoof Fungus

Fomes fomentarius - Horsehoof Fungus

Fomes fomentarius, commonly known as horsehoof fungus, tinder conk, tinder polypore, and  ice man fungus .
A-ha! I was well pleased.

F.  fomentarius is an inedible fungal plant pathogen that commonly grows on dying birch trees. Initially parasitic, it stays attached and subsequently becomes it’s decomposer.  It is a valuable member of  nature’s cleaning system. It also has been used for firestarting, clothing production, and medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and is used widely in Chinese medicine. Some of it’s medicinal properties include:

Detoxification
Immune support
Blood circulation stimulation
Antimicrobial effects
Anti- Inflammatory effects
Liver regeneration

On how F. fomentarius got it’s ice man nickname:

Remnants of this mushroom have been found at Stone Age sites dating back to 11,600 B.C.E. It is the oldest known manipulated natural (biological) product associated with Paleolithic humans. The first written record on F. fomentarius was authored by Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.E.), who mentioned its topical use for cauterizing wounds and for externally treating inflamed organs. The famous 5,000-plus year old ice man (nick named “Otzi”) found on the slopes of the Alps in the fall of 1991 had F. fomentarius “wool” with him as well as whole fruit bodies (Capasso 1998).
— Paul Stamets pp. 220, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World

What a gift of nature! I’m looking forward to making tea from this incredible find.